No, the Avalanche season didn't end tonight -- another Minnesota loss would ensure they'd stay alive for another game still -- but Colorado would continue to not help themselves, falling in ugly fashion to the playoff-bound Blues.
St. Louis opened up the scoring in the 1st shortly after Gabriel Landeskog made a breakout pass over the glass to a fan in the 3rd row, drawing a Delay of Game penalty. But you'd never know it for the first half of the man-advantage. Shawn Matthias led a one-man charge into the St. Louis zone and held it in there for a considerable amount of time, feeding his teammates with a couple of great scoring attempts. Unfortunately, two Avs would collide on the extended possession and allow a two-on-one rush going the other way with David Backes and Vladimir Tarasenko. A drop pass, criss-cross, and return pass later, and Backes had his 21st goal on the season (Video).
The Blues would extend their lead three minutes later off a Chris Bigras turnover at center ice. Magnus Paajarvi stole the puck at sent it around the boards to Troy Brouwer, who flipped the puck to Paul Stastny, who then sent it toward the net. Paajarvi got the ensuing rebound and then put three consecutive shots at goalie Semyon Varlamov before seeing a back-check. The third attempt would squeeze past the goal line to make it 2-0 Blues (Video).
Not satisfied, they'd score again before the period ended. The Avs would get beat out of the Blues' zone and start a two-on-one breakaway. Erik Johnson would break up the odd-man rush, but Alexander Steen made a great pass from behind Colorado's net to rookie defenseman Colton Parayko, who fired a shot far-side through a screened Varlamov to make it 3-0 (Video). He would be lifted for backup Calvin Pickard to start the next period.
A faceoff win in the Avs' zone 3:26 into the 2nd led another Blues' goal. The puck slid back to defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who walked it to the middle and ripped a shot home for his seventh on the year, effectively ruining any chance for a Colorado comeback (Video).
The lone bright spot for Colorado would come in the 3rd when Mikkel Boedker skated into open space in the Blues' zone and fired a wrist shot at the net. Matt Duchene, still hobbled with a knee brace, was standing in the slot and tipped it past Anders Nilsson to draw the game to 4-1 (Video). More importantly, it was Duchene's 30th goal of the season, extending his career high and reaching that super-important milestone the media will always insist matters.
Coach Roy would pull his goalie with about four minutes remaining, but it would be St. Louis who would score despite some quality chances on the other end. Troy Brouwer would chip his 17th of the year into an empty Colorado net to make the final score 5-1 Blues (Video).
- Nick Holden - I'm not sure how he heard the MHH Podcast we recorded Sunday afternoon, but apparently he heard me single him out for noticeably terrible play the past two weeks. He was Plus-16 CF 5v5 tonight, which led all skaters. Well, I guess that happened.
- Matt Duchene - Not a great game overall, but getting his 30th goal was an important way to cap a good individual season. One has to wonder what may have happened for the Avs had he been in the lineup the last two weeks.
Erik Johnson - In a poor game for the team, the big guy brought really solid play from the blue line.
- Tyson Barrie - What happens when you split up Barrie and Holden for long stretches? Maybe tonight was an indication. His playing partner saw an inordinate amount of shots hurled the other direction while Barrie saw a disproportionate amount come his way. Minus-13 CF 5v5. Nothing on the power play. Not a great night.
Francois Beauchemin - What we're seeing right now is result of overusing an older player all season and then splitting him up from his top pairing playing partner. Minus-16 CF 5v5 tonight. If the Avs have intentions of being competitive next season, he needs to be playing 3rd Pairing minutes.